De Jongh is rid of Sevens ‘jitters’


The tickets have been sold out for weeks already, so 55 000 people will pack into Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. And they will be expecting nothing less than a Blitzbok victory come Sunday night at around 8pm.

So De Jongh and his teammates cannot repeat the errors and missed opportunities from Dubai, where they were knocked out in the Cup competition by the US, winning the Plate title in the end.

The Stormers centre and Bulls scrumhalf Francois Hougaard were the two big-name inclusions for Dubai, but both battled to keep up with the speed of the game in the first few games. They seemed to get better with each match, and De Jongh is positive that the Blitzboks will be sharper at the Cape Town Stadium this weekend.

“I must say the tempo of the game, the atmosphere around the tournament and on the field, and those small things have changed a lot over the years. It was at a high tempo, it was good to get that feeling for the game back again. Just to get those jitters and rustiness out of me in the first few games, and I felt we gelled as a team,” he said.

“We came through a lot of character-building situations such as injuries and other things, but we did well to win the Plate final in the end.

“There are still a few things to sort out (with his own game), and it's much easier to move from sevens to 15s, but from 15s to sevens is a totally other game. I can still get better in many things, but I will work hard on that this week.

“The space is absolutely fantastic – just to look up and you have a one-on-one, you don't normally get that in 15-man rugby. But it's important to turn those one-on-one opportunities into five or seven points. That is often the difference between teams as there are only seven minutes in each half and you cannot afford to waste chances.”

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell said De Jongh and Hougaard had reasonable performances in their first tournament, and said that the duo aren't thought of as 15-man players in the Sevens squad. “15-man is a swear word by us! We call them new players, and I felt that they did well. I was really happy with Hougi and Juan. The more time Juan and Hougi spend time with us, the better they will get,” he said.

“I can already see that they will be better this week. They made mistakes here and there in the structure, but we will look at that during the week and work hard on it on the field.”


Original source: De Jongh is rid of Sevens ‘jitters’